Choosing a yoga program is a very exciting part of a yoga teacher’s journey. Whether you’re taking these next steps to teach in a studio, as a part of your existing business or simply to learn more about yogic living, it is not something to be taken lightly.

I spent weeks researching different programs. I knew I wanted something well rounded, extensive, fun, and within my budget. Here are some things I learned when looking for a teacher training that fit my needs.

How long is the program?
If you’re just starting out, you would be getting your 200-hour certification. Once you have this you can then continue forward with your 500-hour (300 more hours added to your previous 200, making your accumulative training 500 hours), which is more in-depth and gives you the accreditation to lead a teacher training. What you want to look for is how these hours are spread out? Is it one or two weekends a month? Is it over several full weeks? How much of it is in the studio, and how much is practice teaching?

How much time will I need to put in outside of the studio?
Most programs require several hours of practice teaching, and you will probably have homework. They usually recognize that we have day jobs and whole lives to lead, so when I got to this point in my search I actually went with the most extensive. I wanted to learn as much as possible, because I wanted to feel prepared for anything by the end of this training. A good rule of thumb is to choose something that has a healthy balance between mind, body and spirit. Some programs focus entirely on the asanas, which is only one aspect of yoga.

What’s on the reading list?
This may be the best way to gauge the curriculum without seeing a syllabus. If there isn’t a reading list, it’s probably not going to be very extensive. If you have one, look up each of the books online. Do they cover the three bases: mind, body, spirit? Is the program focusing on one brand of yoga, or are you going to be educated on several styles in some manner?

Do I need to have a certain amount of experience before beginning?
Be wary of programs that essentially want you to audition for your spot in the training. If you have to stand on your head to prove you’re worthy, look elsewhere. Some places also require that you have so many years experience doing yoga before attending. There really is no reason for this going into a 200-hour training, unless their fear is that you would drop out, which is why many places require a non-refundable deposit by a certain date.

What will be expected of me at the end of the training?
By the end of your 200-hours, you should be able to teach a full-length, balanced yoga class. There will also most likely be a written exam going over everything else you learned during your time in the program. If you’re doing this to become a yoga teacher, you want to not only be able to get your students in and out of poses safely, but you want to be able to discuss yogic living and answer questions outside of class.

How much?
Taking in everything you now know about this training, does the price make sense? Don’t pay the lowest price if you won’t feel prepared by the end of the training. At the same time, don’t pay an arm and a leg for a program with very little to offer.

Are there testimonials?
Look up testimonials and reviews. If you can’t find any, talk to the teachers at the studio and see what their experience was.

What’s the studio like?
Do you feel comfortable at this studio? Is it warm and inviting? Does it make you feel out of place or judged? You want to be at a studio that feels like home, because you want to have the full teacher training experience and feel comfortable enough to ask questions, and accepted enough to sometimes fall flat on your face (get ready for crow pose).

Who is teaching?
Find out some background information on the teacher leading the training. Is there more than one? Are there any guest speakers? Most of this info can be found on the studio’s website.

What do I want to get out of this?
I wanted the tools to be a great yoga teacher who strives to live a yogic lifestyle. It is an endless journey but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love traveling this path and I learn something new every day. Your goals may be different, and that’s perfect, because it’s all about you. Like everything else important, do not settle! Not for the lowest (or highest) price, or the quickest turn around – go with what’s actually worth it.